Playing Local Media on Vizio Co-star with aVia

This is a followup post on the Vizio Co-Star. One of the hardest problems I was having was trying to play the media that was on my local network. First I tried to figure out PlayPoint which comes as a default app on the Vizio Costar with no luck. I then installed Plex since I have a Plex server installed on my Mac.  It worked sometimes. For example I would start to play a movie and it would play fine. However if I left the Plex app and then went back in and tried to play the same movie, sometimes it would play, other times I would get an error message. It also wasn’t see all the contents that was on the server. For me working occasionally is more frustrating than not working at all. After trying different settings without success, I started to look for another option. I then tried the GTVBox app, which is $2.99 in the Google Play Store. It didn’t recognize any of the media that I had and so it didn’t work at all. Still searching for something that would work, I started going through apps in the Google Play store that were recommended for Google TV and I found one called aVia.  aVia is free of charge and according to it’s description  it can play most video types. Since it was free of charge I decided to give it a try, to my surprise it worked.

To get it to work I had to first install a DLNA server on my Macbook. I chose TVMOBili which allows me to stream up to 10GB free. Anything above that will cost a small fee monthly. Once you download the DLNA server of your choice you will need to set it up by adding the folders that contain the media that you want view on your Google TV. If I remember correctly it added the media folders that were on the Macbook automatically, I had to add the folders that were on the external USB drive manually.  In my case I ended up deleting the media folders that were added from the Macbook, since I don’t have any media on them

Once you are finished installing the DLNA server, you are ready to set up aVia. The first thing you will need to do is go into My Sources and check the boxes next to the folders which correspond to the DLNa servers that you are using.
In my case it is listed as TVMOBiLi.nameofmacbook-MacBook.local. If you click the OK button on your remote at this point it will give you the option of choosing which types of media you want aVia to play. By default it is set up to see Music, Video and Images. If you hit the back button twice it will bring you to the front page which says My Media. To play a media file click on the media type, for example Videos, then Folders, then My Content, then Videos again and then choose either Movies or TV Shows. The folders are then listed alphabetically by title of the video. Pick the folder that the video you want to play is under and then click the video and it should start to play. Originally I thought it could only play mp4 file, however that was not true. I had originally set up the TVMOBiLi DLNA server incorrectly and it just wasn’t seeing the other files. Since I fixed that problem it has played everything I have thrown at it.

There are a couple of things that I am still trying to figure out, like how to restart a video from where you left off, instead of from the beginning. However so far, aVia has been the best way to play local media on the Vizio Co-Star.

Vizio Co-Star Review

vizio Co-StarOn the day that the Vizio Co-Star became available for pre-order I ordered one and it arrived late yesterday afternoon. It is small about the size of an Apple TV only thicker. The unit comes with a power cable, a remote, batteries for the remote and a quick start guide. HDMI cables are not included.   ifixit did a tear down of the device and all the specs are available on their webisite

The setup is fairly easily although there is some information you want to have in front of you. There are two HDMI inputs one to attach your cable box, if you have one, and the other one goes to your TV monitor. The Co-star has no sound output, so all the sound has to come from the monitor and what ever sound system that is attached to it. You are now ready to plug the Vizio Co-Star in. The Co-star has no on off button so you have to turn it on and off using the remote control.

Once you have it turned on, it will take you thru the setup process. In order for the remote control to pair with your cable box you may need to input the make and model of the cable box.  Although I was able to pair the remote with my Comcast cable box without having the model number. You can also pair the remote control with your TV, sound system and Blu-Ray Player. To do this you will need the make and model number for each.

During the set up you will quickly notice the limitations of the remote control that comes with the Vizio Co-Star. It has no back light, so it is useless in a dark room.  It hard to type on the keyboard. In order to type a number or symbol you have to hold down the function key while hitting the number. This quickly gets tiring when you are trying to type in a password for a web site. If you have an Android device I would recommend tossing the remote control that comes with the Vizio Co-Star and use the Able Remote which you can download from the Google Play Store.  The Google TV remote app from the iOs also works. However because the Vizio Co-Star doesn’t have an internal or cabled IR blaster the Able or Google TV remote can’t control your regular TV.  I am thinking about getting a USB ir blaster, but I am not sure that would work. Despite these limitation I still recommend downloading one of these apps, if only for the keyboard. I actual like the Able remote the best so far because it is customizable.

Having used the Vizio Co-Star for a day now I am happy I purchased it, however I am not sure it is ready for prime time. Part of the problem there are too many choices and those choices are not always clear. For example there is an app called Made for TV, which if you click on it allows you to easily access sites like CNET, Vimeo, Chow ,etc. However unless you click on it you would never know this. There is a USB input and I tried to attach a USB hard drive to it, but I have not figure out how to get the Vizio Co-Star too read the USB drive. I tried to follow the directions, but it didn’t seem to work. At this point I am probably going to download the Plex app and handle it that way.

The video playback has been very good so far, the only time I have had a problem is on a Web site that had an embedded live Ustream video on it. It kept on freezing, and occasionally crashing. I have had similar problems with the site before on a computer, so I think the problem maybe with Ustream and not the Vizio Co-Star.

I have both the current Apple TV and 1st generation Roku Player and the Vizio Co-Star is definitely replacing the Roku Player. I especially like the fact that I can easily switch from regular TV to TV on the web. You can also easily pull up and use sites like Facebook or Twitter, which is something you can’t do on a Roku Player. Plus the Roku Player buffers a lot and so far I haven’t had that problem with the Vizio Co-Star. I am going to move the Roku to the TV downstairs, where the Apple TV is.  If you are thinking about getting a Google TV, the Vizio Co-Star, at $99.00 is definitely worth a look.